Mar 5, 2012

"NPR is still a notable outlier" in opportunities for women journos, Newsweek reports

Newsweek's Jesse Ellison reports on the power of women at NPR in a piece headlined, "How stuffy old NPR became a hotbed for female journalists." Ellison points out that at NPR, women hold the top editorial position at five of seven news programs and make up nearly half the overall staff. Longtime NPR legal affairs correspondent Nina Totenberg said that's most probably a result of the days when NPR had no choice but to hire women because salaries were so low that few men wanted to work at the fledgling network."The inadvertent result was a roster of young female talent now considered among the most respected names in radio: Totenberg, Cokie Roberts, Linda Wertheimer, and Susan Stamberg, a group affectionately known as the 'Founding Mothers,'" who have since mentored many other NPR newswomen, Ellison says.

"We’ve come a long way since the 1970s," she notes, "but in terms of women’s achievement, NPR is still a notable outlier." The Women’s Media Center reported in February that women make up 18 percent of radio news directors, and 22 percent of the local radio workforce overall.

"Maria Hinojosa: One-on-One" to end production in spring 2012

Citing "resource constraints," WGBH is ending production of Maria Hinojosa: One-on-One, the Boston station announced today (March 5). The five-year partnership between the station and Hinojosa, a journalist, author and longtime pubcaster, produced more than 100 interviews with artists, activists, writers and civic leaders, and won an Imagen Award, which recognizes positive portrayals of Latinos in media. Nationwide, the show ran in 35 markets, and was also broadcast in Spanish on V-me through Season 3. WGBH said it is in "early development stages" of a new local Latino lifestyle program, and past episodes of One-on-One will remain available on WGBH’s digital World channel. "I know our relationship will continue in new forms in the future," Hinojosa said.

Public radio report prompts tightening of procedures for ensuring mine safety

An investigation of a mine accident in Idaho by the Northwest News Network has prompted a federal agency to change how it handles documents regarding mine safety. Last year the network learned that a federal geologist’s report about unstable rock conditions at the Lucky Friday Mine in Mullan, Idaho, had never been sent to the mining company. In April 2011, a miner died in a tunnel collapse at Lucky Friday. After a congressman took the Mine Safety and Health Administration to task for the oversight, the head of the agency has announced that it will take additional steps to make sure that such studies are delivered to mine operators. Hear the full story from the Northwest News Network.

NPR adds Mundt to Digital Services team

NPR has hired Todd Mundt as editorial director for NPR Digital Services, starting April 2. In his new position, Mundt will help stations develop digital content strategies and oversee news training for stations. He now serves as v.p. and chief content officer at Louisville Public Media in Kentucky, where he also serves as p.d. of WFPL, the news/talk station in LPM's portfolio, and hosts Morning Edition. Before joining LPM, he was director of content and media at Iowa Public Radio and chief content officer for Michigan Public Media in Ann Arbor. He previously hosted a talk show distributed by NPR. Mundt is chair of the Public Radio Program Directors Association and has served on the Public Media Platform advisory council. The PRPD blog has the announcement from NPR.

Knell talks Connected Cars, federal funding and more with Nieman

When it comes to explaining the relationship between NPR, its stations and the federal government, “part of me wants to do like a Schoolhouse Rock video of ‘how a bill becomes law,’” says NPR President Gary Knell in a Q&A with the Nieman Journalism Lab. Knell argues that federal support for public broadcasting serves the public interest by educating the public “so that we can make correct decisions and our political leaders can make correct decisions.” The interview also covers NPR’s promotion of Kinsey Wilson to chief content officer, the network’s development of in-car apps for Ford and other subjects.

Pre-execution hit talk show from China, available via PBS International, to air in Britain

A Chinese show featuring interviews with death-row prisoners just before execution has become a hit in that country, with 40 million viewers each Saturday night. Now scenes from the show, titled Dead Men Talking (available via PBS International), will be shown in Britain for the first time in a new BBC 2 documentary, reports The Daily Mail. The show has made a celebrity of interviewer Ding Yu. "Some viewers might consider it cruel to ask a criminal to do an interview when they are about to be executed," she told the paper. "On the contrary, they want to be heard. When I am face-to-face with them I feel sorry and regretful for them. But I don’t sympathize with them, for they should pay a heavy price for their wrongdoing. They deserve it." Lu Peijin, head of the TV Legal Channel in Henan province, the show's producer, told the paper its aim is not to entertain but to "inform and educate according to government policy. We want the audience to be warned. If they are warned, tragedies might be averted. That is good for society." Tom Koch, vice president of PBS Distribution, told Current that both the original show and new documentary are available domestically but have yet to be picked up here.

YouTube newcomers snag hosting duties for PBS's first Online Film Festival

PBS has made an interesting selection for hosts for its first-ever Online Film Festival, reports GigaOm, two newbies "who have between them one mustache and barely six months of YouTube experience." Yet despite their lack of expertise, Stephen Dypiangco and Patrick Epino have managed to create a popular YouTube channel, called the National Film Society, get press credentials to cover Sundance and cement a partnership with Filmmaker Magazine.

“We were looking for someone with a really unique voice, someone you wouldn’t necessarily associate with PBS," Jayme Swain, senior director of PBS Interactive, told GigaOm. The duo's YouTube presence is "still a nascent channel, but have a reputation and a following, and they brought in a new perspective for us."

State funding cuts could have big impact on rural radio in Va. takes a look at how state funding cuts would affect a community radio network in rural Virginia, where in some areas the stations provide the only daily source of news for residents. “If we get a big funding cut, there’re just so many things that we wouldn’t be able to offer,” says Diane Buzzard, g.m. of the Allegheny Mountain Radio Network. “We wouldn’t be able to stay on the air every day. We’d probably have to limit our news feed, we’d probably have to eliminate our part-time news reporters and maybe our full-time news reporter. It would be devastating.” Virginia Gov. Robert McConnell has proposed zeroing out state funding for public broadcasting, but Democrats in the state Senate are trying to thwart his request.

CPB ombud presses WAMU for more info about journalist-donor events

In his latest post, CPB Ombudsman Joel Kaplan presses WAMU in Washington, D.C., for more transparency about interactions between its donors and journalists. “The public deserves more from WAMU,” Kaplan wrote. “It deserves to know exactly what is going on in its newsroom and at its donor conferences.” Kaplan urged the station to release transcripts, records of attendees and other information related to such events, and he suggested the station offer video streams of any future panel discussions that its journalists put on for donors, such as a recent “Meet the Producers Breakfast.”

Kaplan’s focus on WAMU comes after the resignation of News Director Jim Asendio, who objected to the Meet the Producers Breakfast and refused to attend.